Drive Visibility in Lightroom

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Today’s Question: I have two external hard drives attached to my MacBook Pro but they do not show up on the left panel in the Library module in Lightroom [Classic CC]. Is there a way to get them to appear there? I can still see all my files on both drives but the drives are not listed under the Folders heading as volumes.

Tim’s Quick Answer: In order to see folders (or photos) from an external drive in Lightroom Classic CC, you need to import the photos into your Lightroom catalog using the “Add” option. After the photos have been imported if you don’t see the folders in the Folders section of the left panel in the Library module, you can click the heading for the hard drive itself in that Folders section to expand the list of folders below.

More Detail: In order to view and manage folders and photos in Lightroom Classic CC you must import the photos into your Lightroom catalog. When it comes to photos that are already stored in their intended location (such as an external hard drive) you would select the “Add” option from the top-center of the Import dialog after clicking the Import button at the bottom of the left panel in the Library module to get started with the import.

In addition to the “Add” option, you can specify the source of photos to be imported, including being able to select an entire hard drive as the source of photos to import, and to include all subfolders on that drive in a single import operation. There are also a handful of additional options on the right panel in the Import dialog.

Once you have imported existing photos using the “Add” option in the Import dialog, you can see all of the folders that contain photos that were imported under the Folders heading on the left panel in the Library module. Folders will be displayed under a heading for the individual hard drives you have imported photos from (or copied to in the case of importing new captures from a media card).

If the folder view for a hard drive has been collapsed, you won’t see any folders below the header for that drive. You can click the header for the drive to collapse the view (and hide the folders), or click again to expand the view and reveal the folders.

Note that after importing photos into your Lightroom catalog, you’ll be able to view those photos within Lightroom, even if the external hard drive containing those photos is not currently connected to your computer.